A Tufts DPT Professor’s Remarkable Journey in Paratriathlon Sports Medicine

Shefali M. Christopher, PT, DPT, PhD, LAT, ATC, has been an integral part of the US Paratriathlon team since 2018, actively participating in multiple international events annually to optimize their well-being and performance.
Shefali poses by bridge overlooking Paris

Ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, Shefali M. Christopher, PT, DPT, PhD, LAT, ATC, an associate professor in the Tufts University School of Medicine Seattle program, shares her remarkable experiences during the training camp and test event that took place in Vichy, and Paris, France. 

A distinguished figure in the realm of sports medicine, Christopher has been an integral part of the US Paratriathlon team since 2018, attending two-three international events each year to ensure their well-being and optimal performance during critical events—including test events.

Athlete on bicycle

“At the test event, athletes have a chance to test the racecourse for the Paralympic games. It was also originally an automatic qualification race so a lot of athletes were trying to earn their spot for the Paralympic games at this event,” said Christopher. “My main responsibility was to be the medical provider for the athletes during training camp and the race.”

Christopher's journey in sports medicine began with a focus on athletes with physical impairments, an interest that led her to work with adaptive athletes.

Reflecting on her early career focus, Christopher recalled, "Upon graduating from PT school, my ambition was to work with athletes with physical impairments. I loved my prosthetic and orthotics class. My first continuing education course post-graduation was a weekend seminar on coaching amputees how to run, led by the renowned Bob Gailey, PT. While my exposure to adaptive athletes was initially limited, I actively treated triathletes and spoke at national conferences on the subject. Additionally, my engagement in the American Physical Therapy Association's adaptive athlete special interest group further enriched my involvement in the field."

Shefali carrying equipment -- Eiffel Tower is seen in the distance

The experience has been very gratifying to Christopher, whose expertise is highly valued within the team, where she collaborates closely with fellow professionals to address complex challenges related to injuries and equipment needs.

“It has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life,” said Christopher.